One of the common variations on magic, oft beloved by the munchkin crowd, is the concept of 'sword mages' or 'knight mages'. We all know and love them as the folks in full plate that split globes in twain with flaming swords, before twirling around to change their flame sword to an ice sword so they can stab the flaming angel of vengeance in the chest to maximum effect. Else, they're the lovely knight in the video game who barely keeps pace on the way to the boss, then runs out of MP and is completely useless.

Well, this drifted through my mind as I was attempting to reason out the existance of a gnomish ninja university, and it wasn't long before the two ideas clicked, in a way that may or may not eventually become something interesting.

In some eastren styles of combat, what we think of as the seperate motion of drawing a sword and attacking with it are combined, the sheath and the drawing acting to increase the sword's speed and striking strength, via some neat stuff that I don't really understand at all. In Japanese, this is referred to as Battoujitsu. Well, it also came to me that during the draw-strike, the warrior's will is going to be incredibly focused. In a magic-present world, it's not entirely unbelieveable that this focus may draw the attention of something that may well help, or serve as a kind of channeling. Beyond the initial strike, the warrior's focus would diminish, and to perform the act again, he would need to, at a minimum, re-sheath his weapon, a potentially dangerous activity.

With the how in place, the art would probably begin with naturally talented people: those with execptionally focused wills, those with powerful spiritual connections, the martially-inclined son of that elder wizard. It would then progress from them, to the students at least some would invariably collect.

Now, where I start to run into problems are the following:
If I were building a Battoujitsu-magi class:
What kind of a spell list would I be looking at? Outside of Fire, Lightning, Wind attacks, and Channeled Spirits of Strength and Speed, I'm coming up with a wholel lot of empty.

Would primary statistics be mental, or physical? Should he be strong? Fast? Wise? Intelligent? Willful? Any combination thereof?

What kind of equipment are we looking at as permissable? For the physics of the draw-strike, slighty-curved swords of moderate length are relatively preferable, leaving katanas, sabers, possibly scimitars, and, on the extreme edge, khukris and falchions as prefered weapons. No claymores here, for the obvious reason. But what about armor? Would spirits channeled in this manner have a distaste for cold iron, disdaining those in plate and chain, and requiring the use of bronze or possibly even enchanted obsidian or stone for blades, and restricting our sworddraw mage to leather, or even silk armors, for the most part? If they are unafraid of iron, could a suit of plate mail be tailored to prevent encumbrance of the draw?

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Things I noticed.

A: A kukri would be impractical. The curve is reversed.

Beyond that, I love the idea. What about different styles of strike invoking different attributes and powers? Have you ever seen Rurouni Kenshin? Imagine a standard battou-jutsu strike, complete with run up. You have speed (The run up and draw) and strength (The strike). You could potentially have a strike that doubled damage, dismembered, beheaded, etc.. Then you could have a downwards strike that stuns, in addition to damage, drawing over the shoulder, with the curve of the blade, rather than laying flat against the back, curving out from the back. You could have an upwards strike that knocks the opponent into the air, rendering them vulnerable for a while. Combine these with elements, perhaps add some different angles that had different effects, and you could have a very interesting combat style. You could have plate mail, modified so that the pauldron is inflexible on the right arm, and instead is somewhat larger, allowing freedom of motion. Remove the right arm vambrace and gauntlet, cover the arm in light chainmail, and you have a set of quickdraw plate. Good idea.

For the khukri: The khukri is generally a double curved blade. While the rough shape is indeed roughly such as a

how about having a special class/prestige class/ability set/whatever your system uses, that focuses on these abilities? They wear a special type of armor, use primarily katanas and scimitars, and focus on these attacks. The armor could be silk, with four ply wires running at different angles through it. They don't have to be very dense, so you could have them as far apart as an inch or two, and still have some effect. If you ran two different sets of perpendicular wires, one set going - and |, and the other going / and \, you would effectively have a reduction in damage, with little or no reduction in mobility. Since this type of warrior would, necessarily, be very fast, only a slight reduction would be required.

That would function well, I think, Nitouken, though I would think leathers and maybe even elven chain would be good. As I was thinking though, they should probably be less durable than the average fighter, as a balancing mechanism to the magic. Access to x # of y level battojitsu controlled by willpower or wisdom, and constitution, I'm thinking. (I'm also thinking this class would fit -right- into EarthDawn. )

The primary reason to want a set of plate available to the class (in theory), is to be able to put together a description so that when they storm the castle and get to the throne room to find their final foe, they have the 'God have mercy on us' moment of realizing this guy is not only in 'appropriate to major villian' armor, but that he's going to be using battoujitsu.. and have the disturbing damage mitigation that plate offers, with shockingly little effective encumbrance. Yeah, it's fast, but, yeah, it's been made with the willingness to sacrifice protection from movement. The equivalent to 'crystal plate mail', for systems where iron and magic don't mix well.

In terms of classical races, I can see this being very favored amoung elves: Many would want to mix the traditions of the longsword with their love of magic, but perhaps few would have the talent and ability to focus at that level? Humans lack the raw gift for magic, but the increased ability to focus on the now would make up for that? Gnomes, perhaps, if they can find the discipline, and an appropriately sized sword? Dwarves, I think, would be rare indeed, with their distrust of magic, and general preferance for not-swords. It's hard to draw an axe in this matter. Halflings are too busy stuffing themselves with tea and scones to get fat for passing trolls. Orcs and their kin lack the discipline, though wild talent may exist. The non-elven Fae will likely have rare champions that use this art, but most would disdain a sword, I think?

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In terms of classical races, I can see this being very favored amoung elves: Many would want to mix the traditions of the longsword with their love of magic, but perhaps few would have the talent and ability to focus at that level? Humans lack the raw gift for magic, but the increased ability to focus on the now would make up for that? Gnomes, perhaps, if they can find the discipline, and an appropriately sized sword? Dwarves, I think, would be rare indeed, with their distrust of magic, and general preferance for not-swords. It's hard to draw an axe in this matter. Halflings are too busy stuffing themselves with tea and scones to get fat for passing trolls. Orcs and their kin lack the discipline, though wild talent may exist. The non-elven Fae will likely have rare champions that use this art, but most would disdain a sword, I think?

Or it could be that elves would have a bit of trouble adapting to the curved blade style - they are a race inclined towards stasis in most things, after all. That, and while elves may have the knack for magic, not many have the raw burning drive of unfettered will to drive it; they're too chaotic and mercurial by nature. Some would manage it - in particular, I can see some dark elves mastering it, in time - but likely not many.

As for the others races, I generally agree, though I think that perhaps a half-orc would be highly dangerous as one - the combination of human focus and orcish warrior-spirit would be impressive...

Awesome idea.

With the limit on armor there should probably be a limit on how many swords a person can wear as well. (I picture a dude with 4 swords on his back, one on each hip and two hanging on the belt on the back. Just draw, magic, drop, draw, magic, drop...

Perhaps the sword and the way it is drawn induces the type of magical attack. This would cause the sheathe having to be held in the opposite hand intead of mounted somewhere. Perhaps having to hold the sheathe could be a requirement for the casting. You could have some very artistic drawings of the sword and, again, depending on the way, direction, style, the sword is drawn will depend on the effect/spell it causes. It also may make it a little easier to sheathe it and do it again....but not by much.

Great idea!!!!

You know, Kass, you're right. Let us thank the gods now that half orcs aren't common, and half-orcs that learn this are about as rare as orcish paladins.

And you're right, Strolen, that's probably a relatively important limitation to make, about the number of swords, anyway. It's been a while since I had to deal with an eight armed PC, and he was simultaneously wielding 2 sub-machine guns, a heavy pistol, a light machinegun, and a toaster oven. I'm thinking though, that given the nature of the magic at hand, the character should have to declare a 'favored sword'. This sword, and only this sword, does he understand the spirit of enough to draw power through it. The process of learning the next 'favored sword' is enough that should you try to remember more than one, you lose track of it, without exceptional memory or skills. Say, a feat or high priced skill. Re-aligning to a new sword is two to eight hours of meditation.

I'm also beginning to think that this is going to be hard on swords. Like, mowing through an unenchanted saber in maybe a month of adventuring, a masterwork saber or standard katana in 2 months, and a masterwork katana in say, 4. Magic weapons would probably be able to stand up to this kind of use, but, well, how many adventurers have them early?

A possible low-to-mid level ability: Inviolable Blade. (Admittedly for this class in a more scifi-ish setting, it'd be a higher-yield skill...)

In essence, the spirit of the wielder sheathes the blade in an ultrathin layer that makes it impossible to demolish through normal means. A rust monster could still eat it, and a rusting spell would still ruin it, but normal usage won't damage it, as long as it remains in his hands...

Perhaps at a suffecient level, you'd also gain the ability to spontaneously generate a weapon? Advancing in +es as the wielder gained power? Draws could be done using the offhand as a sheath, however, you'd lose the ability to perform double strikes in which the sheath is used as a weapon to guard against the failure of the initial strike.

Gonna brew on this overnight, and see what kind of total concept I can integrate together into a product ready for system adaptation.

Kass, haven't you learned to be careful what you wish for around me? No, you can't have one yet, I haven't figured out the system in entirety yet, let alone how to turn it on its ear and make it something I want to use.


'Cazic-Thule appears, and slays you with a sword that bursts into flames as he draws it. He slays your imitation brain-in-a-jar too.'

Mid level skills:

Here, the magi has begun to learn the art of the double-battojitsu. The blade is not always the focus of these strikes, but rather, from time to time, the sheath is is utilitized as an off hand weapon.

Earth's Fury: Striking the ground in succession with first the blade and then the sheath, the magi first opens a short range chasm, then causes it to collapse upon itself.

Rising wind: A twisting set of blows performed en-passant, the magi creates a vortex of winds the lifts the foe and deposits him most uncermoniously on the ground. As the magi gains in power, the winds become sharper, and the vortex deals damage.

Protect Blade: The magi's will prevents destruction of his attuned weapon in normal combat.

Paralyzing Lightning: A powerful strike to the spine, combined with a hefty jolt of lightning, cripples the ability of a foe to move, potentially permanently.

Cleave Projectile: Beginning form a prepared stance, the magi may wait for a projectile attack to be launched, and intercept it with his blade. This ability will function on all projectiles, from an elf's arrow to a giant's boulder, and even an arquebus's bullet.

Divine Speed(Thanks, Kenshin!): The magi strikes first this round of combat. He may not hold his action till after others.

Armor Shatter: Drawing upon the spirits of rage, heavy armor literally shatters under this strike: Banded, Splint, Scale, all forms of plate, and other such stiff armors are heavily damaged by this strike, and the stiffer and less flexible the armor, the more damage dealt to it. Full platemail rings like a bell, the shock utterly destroying it. Magical armors are not destroyed unless the magi is far more powerful than the enchantment on the armor, but are still damaged nonetheless.

High level skills: (warning, many based on anime)

Wind strike: The mage draws the sword with sufficient speed to create a supersonic shockwave in the shape of his sword. This planar wave acts exactly like the sword, but ignores damage reduction type stuff, and cannot penetrate metal armor. It has a short to medium range.

Blind strike: When drawing the sword the mage dashes forward with such speed he cannot be seen. This negates any defensive maneuvers the target may perform, and significantly raises the damage.

Air strike: Leaping into the air, the mage rotates so that he faces downwards, then just before landing, draws the sword so that he disarms his opponent, potentially literally.

Soul strike: The mage, when drawing his sword, angles it so that the light strikes it just right, and this resultant flash stuns or potentially knocks out any opponents in the area.

One thing about this fighting style, Ria, is that actual battoujutsu fights rarely lasted longer than a few seconds. This style is so deadly that after one or two strikes, it would be over. That is the reason it was developed. It would not be unreasonable to assume that a low powered character (Forgive my use of D&D, but it is easiest for me), say about 2nd or 3rd level, would be able to take out an enemy as high as three or four levels above him, if he could act first. However, he would probably have a penalty for the rest of the combat. That is the reason sometimes it wouldn't be used. It would be something to use against significantly stronger foes, but not something to use lightly.

Indeed, the entire point of a style like this would be to significantly tip the battle in one direction instantly. If you're a group of say, bandits, approaching the group of travellers, and of your targets slays your leader who lead the charge, or even worse, the leader who was standing in the back giving orders, before anyone else even draws a breath... Well, what do you think is going to happen?

Our theoretical battoujitsu magi strikes first, and then his magical advantage is spent, unless he can effectively withdraw from combat and begin again, which is often a poor choice of action. Until he can both sheathe his weapon, and regain the concentration and internal tension at the opnening breath, he cannot strike magically again. Because his strikes require speed above all else, he is limited in his armor. His training will stress accuracy, speed, and stamina over the ability to take a beating, probably to the point where he can survive the initial penalty without serious crippling even at lower levels. Should he restrike with the magic, things will be significantly different, of course. As well, chances are, the spirits of war will only respond so much before they get sick of it, meaning that he'd have a restriction on what he can do via battoujitsu-magic, not unlike that of a cleric - But he /will/ need a martial art to finish the fight with, and it'll probably be speed based over power. Because of all this, I don't really see the need to make him fight at a significant penalty in extended combat:: If he can only strike a few times a day, he'll pass on a strike to save it for later, the same way a wizard has to conserve his magic missiles.

Could be an entire new realm of dueling when you bring this style into account. The swift and final brutality of the style would make wielders very well respected. Their swords would probably make them obvious. Something that all those that have masterd the style get or something.

Depending on the maturity of the world or the dispute a dual of these fighters could decide a dispute.

Okay, two quick, dirty, and not so inspired Organizations who would use this: Not really a good list to work with, but a place to use as a diving board for more specific places:

Sisters of the Midnight Wind: Akin to everyone's favorite assassin, the Ninja, the Sisters are a monk-like group which 'cleanses' the land of important do-gooders for your local evil religion. Based out of the Temple of the Occluded Stars, the Sisters spend their days in darkly guided meditation as they await their orders. Once given their orders, their moonlit auguries give them the directions they need to lie in wait for their target, perfectly hidden for days, or even weeks, until the time to strike is given them. They will sieze the opportunity gladly, and fade back into the night quickly, trusting their draw techniques to gain them the advantage over their unaware foes.

The Red Guard of Thunder: Nacth, the king of the Sunderland Marches, has seen a number of attempts on his life as of late. Having barely survived the second of these attempts, he has chosen to create a guard for himself. To this end, he has gathered no less than eight Saber-mages, selected for renown, speed, and strength, pretty much in that order. (There wasn't a very large field of candidates, perhaps 12 to choose from.) In their off hours, these men have been ordered to train for speed and clarity of judgment: In perhaps their most spectacular success, a man with a hidden dagger was cut down midstrike, the Red Guard drawing, advancing 10 feet across the room, and beheading the man in the time it took for his victim to advance his stab five inches.

There is a sword-mage in development for Midian, to be printed with either War or Conquest. The basis for this magical tradition (think 'necromancer' or 'enchanter' rather than a full class) is that the preferred weapon becomes the mage's familiar. With additional class levels (both mage and familiar gain levels) new special abilities and new weapon Features are gained, and the weapon is upgraded to be bigger, shinier, fancier, etc. As Midian is a fairly low-magic system, the normal munchkin problems with this concept are avoided.

Two skills/spells that relate to magical blade-drawing techniques will be a suggested part of the sword-mage's arsenal follow.

Call Weapon



100 hours

Requires: Telekinesis

With this magic you are able to rapidly draw any weapon on your person to your hand. The blade will mystically launch itself out of it's scabbard and into your waiting hand. This effect takes place rapidly--effectively using no additional action, nor incurring an initiative penalty--and may be quite surprising for those witnessing it for the first time, especially if they suddenly find that weapon under their chin. Note that this magic does not enchant the weapon, but rather is a skill of the user. The magic can undo a simple strap or peace-bond, but cannot force an item out of a closed rucksack. The sword-mage must only know where the weapon is located on his or her person, no Telekinesis roll is needed, nor is weight a factor provided the weapon may be wielded at all. Items that are not actually carried by the sword-mage cannot be affected. This mystic ability does allow you to draw and attack as a single action.

Recover Weapon



100 hours

Requires: Call Weapon

You are able to recover a dropped weapon or item. You need not look directly at the object, but merely need to know it's approximate location and hold out your arm. Any item that you may effectively use may be so recovered, i.e. you can pick up a small rock to throw, but not levitate a boulder or your opponent. Much like Call Weapon, the item quickly launches itself into your hands. Those items 'in the aura' of another cannot be affected; that is, you cannot use this ability on a weapon held or carried by another person. The maximum range for this effect is about three feet, enough to pick up an item on the ground or from a weapon rack, or one that is just out of reach in a hole, but certainly not from a great distance.